By David Beaumont.
‘Logistics In War’, with well over sixty original posts, had an arguably successful first year of publishing. With 2017 drawing to a close, I am proud to present the five most read articles of the year. I do so with the caveat that with the growth of the site, the earliest articles drew less views than those released later in the year. That being said, there should be no surprises for regular readers ……
#5 – ‘Thinking small – the importance of small team logistics operations’ by Steven Mencshelyi
In ‘Thinking small – the importance of small team logistics operations’, Australian Army officer Steven Mencshelyi commends tactical logisticians to become better practiced in sub-combat team operations. Why is this important? Steven considers that sustaining small combat elements operating in a dispersed tactical environment will require logisticians to rethink how they currently operate. Orchestration and tempo will become defining considerations for sustainment operations conducted by small logistics teams that lack the scale necessary to sustain all combat operations at once. A great article that directs attention for aspiring logistics commanders…..
#4 – ‘The roots of readiness – the six logistics factors defining strategic choice’ by David Beaumont
‘The roots of readiness – the six logistics factors defining strategic choice’ highlights an fact that appears, at first glace, self-evident. It is less important that military forces are available than they are actually employable. The assumption that a force is employable because of its pre-determined ‘notice to move’ is proven unfounded when, as has been the case incredibly frequently in history, substantial logistics weaknesses exist elsewhere. This article looks towards six criteria that underpin ‘logistics readiness’; the mutual understanding between commanders and logistics staff, the balance between combat and supporting forces across a force, the quality of logistics plans and policies, the nature of organisation, materiel readiness, and the quality by which the logistics forces are exercises in peacetime.
#3 – ‘Logistics and the strangling of strategy’ by David Beaumont
This post was one of a smaller number of posts which looked at logistics and its relationship to strategy. It recognises that logistics systems and supply chains are not only an influence on the formulation of strategy, but in many cases an outright determinant. Furthermore, the contemporary fixation on high-velocity, nominally ‘efficient; and globalised supply-chains have introduced significant operational challenges that strategists are only coming to realise. It cites a number of recent studies of operations in Afghanistan to support its thesis, concluding with a realisation that we are in an era where logistics has been recast from an issue of economy and commerce to one fundamental to the security of nations.
#2 – ‘Establishing an ‘unequal dialogue’ between the logistician and the commander’ by Steve Cornell
Steve Cornell, a serving British Army officer and commanding officer, made an apt comparison between Eliot Cohen’s ‘unequal dialogue’ between military commanders and political masters to the relationship necessary between logisticians and their commanders. Logisticians must understand the minds of their commanders, but with a robust dialogue, their perspective must also be reflected in their commander’s thinking. Steve helpfully identifies three questions for commanders and three for logisticians that provide a good starting point in establishing an effective relationship. Implicit in this is shared trust, a factor emphasised in this years most popular post …
Most popular post for 2017 – ‘The trust deficit – why do we expect logistics to fail us?’ by Gabrielle M. Follett
As an Australian Army combat service support battalion commander, Gabrielle Follett was well-placed to discuss the issue of trust between tactical commanders and logisticians. She observed a general cultural scepticism as to the ability of logisticians to operationally deliver, and witnessed an assumption made by many ‘that the logistics system is almost certainly going to fail us’. This lack of faith generates what Follett calls a ‘trust deficit’. The ‘trust deficit’ is seen to be compounded by an unwillingness to accept that logistics, like combat, is subject to the influence of many factors, but also a mentality whereby ‘trust is good, but control [of resources] is better’. Yet, Follett incisively argues, logisticians must also demonstrate competence, or quantifiably expose shortfalls so that resources to remediate them can be won.
Posts you should read
In addition to the five most popular posts, there a few editorial recommendations to avail you of five minutes of your time. These posts are thematically linked – with strategic logistics leadership the focus. Please excuse the self-selection!
- ‘Future logistician – framing a new approach‘ by Major General David Mulhall. Why? It’s always useful to keep in mind where strategic leadership is heading.
- ‘The realities of logistics and strategic leadership: lessons from the ADF’s senior-most logisticians‘ by David Beaumont. Why? The post provides a list of succinct anecdotes and lessons relevant to understanding institutional logistics.
- ‘Surviving your time as a military logistician‘ by Air Commodore Hayden Marshall. Why? The post gives ‘mantras’ for logisticians to survive – if not thrive – within the institutional and operational environment.
- ‘Intellectual irrelevance and ownership of logistics‘ by David Beaumont. Why? Take a read – the article attests to why LIW exists.
- ‘A Logistics in War Primer: how we make a sustainable and balanced force‘ by David Beaumont. Why? It describes the importance of logistics considerations in force design though two case studies – the US Army development of its SBCT capability, and the Australian Army’s recent history of change.
Thanks to all contributors for supporting LIW, and making 2017 a success!